NBA: Lakers looking for first away win over collapsing Spurs

Los Angeles Lakers’ Russell Westbrook #0 handles the ball next to Anthony Davis #3 during the second half of an NBA game at the Footprint Center on November 22, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Lakers 115-105. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

The Los Angeles Lakers will be in search of their first away win of the year and will be hoping for LeBron James’ return on Friday when they take on the struggling Spurs in the first back-to-back game between the teams in San Antonio.

The teams played in Los Angeles on Sunday, with the Lakers clinching a 123-92 win despite playing without James. James traveled with the team for their three-game Thanksgiving road trip and is expected to attend at least one of the two games over two nights in San Antonio.

Los Angeles’ last game was a 115-105 loss at Phoenix on Tuesday that smashed their best three-game winning streak of the season. Anthony Davis led the Lakers in the loss, scoring 37 points and hitting a season-high 21 rebounds.

Davis is the first player in NBA history to have at least 35 points, 20 rebounds, five blocks and five steals since the league began tracking blocks and steals.

He also became just the third Laker to score 30 or more points and grab 15 or more rebounds in four straight games, joining Elgin Baylor and Shaquille O’Neal.

Lonnie Walker IV scored 24 points, Russell Westbrook added 21 and Austin Reaves scored 11 points for the Lakers. James did not play due to an ongoing adductor injury. Los Angeles dropped all six road games.

Los Angeles played better when reserves Dennis Schroder and Thomas Bryant finally saw the pitch after missing the start of the season. Lakers coach Darvin Ham expects his team to be even stronger when James, who has not played since November 9, returns.

LeBron James Lakers NBA

LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers warms up during a break from the second half of an NBA game at the Footprint Center on November 22, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Lakers 115-105. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

“It’s going to be great as we continue to bring people back to full health and becoming whole,” Ham said. “I’m sure we’ll find out. We just watch it game after game after game and just tend to solidify at some point.”

The Spurs have moved down the West rankings by losing six straight games, including a 129-110 blowout at home to New Orleans on Wednesday. San Antonio missed the first eight shots and was 9-0 before scoring a point, trailing 10 after a half and 19 at halftime before a struggle in the second half.

It was Spurs’ 11th loss in their last 12 games. Things are so bad in San Antonio these days that coach Gregg Popovich took it upon himself to praise his team for the game against New Orleans after halftime.

“The third quarter and half of the fourth quarter we played D (defense) pretty well,” Popovich explained. “During that time, we were outperformed by six (points). The physicality of offense and defense plays purposefully and not just running around. It took all of this time to get them to the point where they could compete the way they needed to win in the NBA.

Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 26 points, Doug McDermott with 21 points, Jeremy Sochan with 12 points and Keita Bates-Diop with 10 points. Keldon Johnson, who had been San Antonio’s top scorer, had a season-low five points in 2-of-9 shooting.

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